Hunting Season


It has been a tragic autumn for the de-facto leaders of the occupied territories. The first death we witnessed was that of the separatist leader of Donetsk, Alexander Zakharchenko, who died in an explosion. A week later, the de-facto Prime Minister of Abkhazia, Gennady Gagulia, was killed in a car accident. Then Igor Dodon, President of Moldova, also had a car crash, but survived. A lot of political analysts believe that the Zakharchenko explosion, Dodon car crash and death of Gagulia are interconnected and are more than a mere coincidence.

Who started the big hunt on the leaders of separatist forces, why, and what the President of Moldova had to do with it is unknown, but expert Vakhtang Maisaia has his version of events and points to the fact that Dodon had managed to settle relationships with some at the Dniester by bypassing the Kremlin: “Dodon was planning to meet the so-called leaders of separatist Dniester and had been able to come to some agreement with them. More specifically, the issue concerned military trainings which were supposed to be held within the framework of the Russian military trainings,” Maisaia says.

If by some logic Dodon’s car crash did have some connection with the Kremlin, it is unclear why they would want to get rid of Gagulia. Maybe somebody else was the real target of the Kremlin, and the so-called PM of Abkhazia fell prey instead. The so-called Deputy Head of State Security says that the cortege was coming from the Psou border towards Sokhumi; Gagulia’s Toyota Camry was following the car of Raul Khajimba. A small car moving in the opposite direction swerved and crashed head-on into the car that was behind Khajimba’s. But whose car was the target, Khajimba’s or Gagulia’s?

Khajimba’s predecessor, Aleksandr Ankvab, was also victim to a few car accidents, but survived all. Afterwards, there were a number of armed attacks against him and he survived those too. Finally, the people were so stirred up against him that Raul Khajimba came to replace him as the leader of the occupied regime. Whether a similar scenario will take place in Khajimba’s case is yet to be seen, but it is a fact that the season of car accidents is officially open.

Often, the de-facto leaders of occupied Abkhazia, their deaths and disappearances, are a theme for a separate discussion. Nobody knows why the separatist leader Vladislav Ardzinba was diagnosed with Alzheimers at the age of 53. It is also ambiguous why Ardzinba’s heir, Sergei Bagapsh, died during a fairly easy operation for lung emphysema- he was planning to return to Sokhumi after the operation but was found dead in the hospital room. Now, Aleksandr Ankvab, who replaced Bagapsh, perhaps suspicious after Bagapsh’s “accident,” usually comes to visit Tbilisi for his heart treatment, rather than going to Moscow.

It is notable that the fate of Khajimba’s predecessors strangely coincided with the rise in problematic issues of land ownership and religion in the area. Today, religion has overshadowed proprietorship. Abkhazian citizens are divided: ones taking the side of Constantinople, others supporting the Patriarch of Russia. Today, Khajimba stands on this crossroads and the intensity of probable assassinations could depend on the abovementioned issue. 

By Zaza Jgarkava

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14 September 2018 13:53